The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones - Blu-ray Review

'Lily Collins' character might be called Clary, but she's not going to let that stop her'

Watching The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones proves to be one of those experiences where even the most eager of viewers will find themselves tested by a film seemingly intent on putting barriers to enjoyment in the way. This has many of the right ingredients to both be a decent film and to capture the Twilight audience on its way to being a franchise hit. Somehow, it manages to squander at least the first element and possibly the second as it makes its way through a narrative ripe with silliness.

Things start promisingly. Lily Collins' character might be called Clary, but she's not going to let that stop her being a well-written teen with a mother (Lena Headey) and friend (Robert Sheehan) causing her stress even before she starts to see symbols and people that 'mundanes' (normal world dwellers) can't. The setup isn't dispensed with swiftly but proves all the better for it, as Clary falls in with demon hunter Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), with Simon (Sheehan) in awkward love-triangle tow. Everything up to Jace's dispatching of a couple of 'cops' is pretty well done by director Harald Zwart and although there's a lot to explain, the director gets away with in between moments of either action, tension or the unexpected.

The problem is that, from here on in, things get far too stupid for their own good. The Jace/Clary relationship is a terribly obvious arc but, not content with its inherent equivalency to other tween Romances, Zwart seems to be on a mission to make it as drastically unappealing as possible. First comes a stinker of a scene, which pulls in a pop track for no reason and puts the leads in a colourful forest, where the rest of the film has a palette of pleasingly dark greys and browns. Immediately after this we're in to a bout of tried and tested third-act enabling pointless antagonism, as not only Simon but then Jace fall out with Clarly. The horror! Quite what the second of those likely lads actually has to moan about is anyone's guess.

Meanwhile Zwart gradually allows the story to drift from things that probably matter but aren't really explained (the City Of Bones itself), to Comedy villains that aren't funny (Kevin Durand), to real villains who show up far too late and spend a lot of time attempting to explain who they are and why they're out to destroy everything.

It all becomes a bit of a muddle, where it is very difficult to care about any one thing that is going on, and near-impossible to invest in them all. The sequel was apparently green-lit before the disappointing sub-$10 million US opening weekend but on the evidence of this the chances of both its arrival and that arrival being of high quality feel, at best, brittle.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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